The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition
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534 of 565 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2001
When I write a book I use only a handful of reference tools: dictionary, thesaurus, Gregg's Reference Handbook, Writers Market, and the Elements of Style. Strunk and White is a wonderfully-written, extraordinarily concise tool that pays homage to classic high-end English. It takes language insight to make this prediction in 1979: "By the time this paragraph makes print, uptight... rap, dude, vibes, copout, and funky will be the words of yesteryear." The book begins with eleven "Elementary Rules of Usage," and then continues with eleven more "Elementary Rules of Composition," and eleven "Matters of Form." Each is presented as a brief statement followed by another sentence or two of explanation and a few clarifying examples. This amazing compilation fills only thirty-eight pages, yet covers ninety percent of good writing fundamentals. My favorite section is Chapter IV, a twenty-seven-page, alphabetical listing of commonly misused words and expressions. Here's a trade secret: when my manuscript is "done," I then turn to this chapter and use my word processor's Find function to study every instance of all these problematic words and phrases. I never fail to find errors this way. Many great writers are so only because they've learned to make use of the best available tools. The end of the book contains an essay on "An Approach to Style" with a list of twenty-one "Reminders." Those who fight the apparently-natural tendency to go against these recommendations succeed as writers. Those who don't, fail. It's that simple. The single drawback of The Elements of Style is that it's too concise; it does not stand alone as an all-encompassing tutorial or reference guide. Many readers will seek other sources for more in-depth explanation of style elements. Despite that, it easily replaces ten pounds of other reference material. --Christopher Bonn Jonnes, author of Wake Up Dead.
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174 of 182 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2012
I'm a huge fan of Strunk and White's "Elements of Style," however, this is not the Strunk and White edition. This is simply a digitized-for-Kindle version of the original (Strunk only) edition.

There's a reason that college classes across the country use the Strunk and White edition--it is simply better.
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128 of 134 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2012
You are not getting Strunk & White's The Elements of Style. You are merely getting the 1919 version of The Elements of Style -- before E.B. White improved it. And who the heck is William Strunk, Jr.? That is an ingenuous claim. Strunk's son did not edit nor annotate The Elements of Style.

If you're happy with just the 1919 version, get the FREE Kindle version, not this bogus one. Save your money.
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197 of 214 people found the following review helpful
As the 'rules' in this iconic book take up only 14 pages, it continually amazes me how often I can find the answer to a grammar or punctuation guestion within those pages. It doesn't cover everything, and some of the 'rules' are of course changing with the passage of time - but if a wannabe writer can't afford a whole bookcase of tomes on How to Write, then this is the one he or she should buy.
Beyond those 14 pithy pages, however, are another 100 or so that extend the value of the book immeasurably: Principles of Composition, Commonly Misused Words, and perhaps the most valuable: An Approach to Style, which gives excellent advice along the lines of Do not overwrite, Avoid qualifiers, Don't over-explain, Avoid adverbs, Avoid dialect, Don't inject opinion, and tons of others.
When all's said and done, however, one of the very best parts is a wonderful essay by the inimitable EB White himself - the Introduction, which serves as a perfect example of all that the rest of the small book preaches: write concisely, clearly, and well, and say something worthwhile.
Other books for writers to consider: Bird by Bird, On Writing, and Writing Down the Bones.
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428 of 477 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2001
While skimming through Stephen King's book ON WRITING, he highly recommended THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE. Taking his advice I searched for a copy and found one in a free bin--of all places! I looked at it and decided that it was so much better than any other textbook that I had seen that I decided to WRITE IT. Three pages a day for a month or so. It's a very short book, only about 80 pages or so. You learn everything from words that are often spelled wrong, to punctuation, to style, etc. Very blunt and to the point. No exercises in here, problems 1 - 10 all. Nope, you just read this book and enjoy it. Why, there's actually a little humor in it at times, which is pretty good for a textbook. Now I've heard some people say that this book is bad because it is saying to follow all these rules and don't stray from them. I think they got it all wrong. This book is essentially saying this: you can't blaze new trails in the English language without having a solid foundation in the basics first! This goes for ANYTHING. You don't suddenly set off an a 200 mile trek, you slowly work up to it, starting from the basics. After you have mastered the basics, then you can break free. One thing that this book continually points out is that it is OFTEN A MATTER OF EAR. Meaning that if you are experienced enough, you will know whether to stick to the traditional or whether to be liberal when phrasing something, for example. By far this is the most talked-about textbook that I've seen and the most valuable.
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94 of 101 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2010
First of all, I want to make it clear that I love this book. I borrowed it from a friend a few years ago, which is why I thought it was high time I got my own copy. Unfortunately, once I did, I found that the actual quality of the printing of this edition is horrible. The paper feels cheap and the text looks as if it were poorly photocopied. You would definitely not expect this from an edition billed as "more durable and elegantly bound edition". The only good thing I could say about this edition is that the cover is indeed beautiful, which is a good thing if all you want is something that looks nice on a bookshelf.

I recommend the 4th edition instead.
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106 of 117 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2011
If you look on Kindle for "Strunk and White" you get this. The description even says Elements of Style, known colloquially as Strunk and White. It is, alas, not Strunk and White, but Strunk alone, a facsimile of the 1918 original (long before E.B. White lent his hand).

If you liked White's improvements and want to read that on Kindle, beware. Saying this edition is Strunk and White is like saying "Imagine" is by someone colloquially known as "Lennon and McCartney."
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103 of 115 people found the following review helpful
I picked this up sometime in December, after having read the original edition online for free. I know it has been getting a lot of bad reviews citing greed and whatnot, so I thought I'd add my thoughts on this newest edition of the most useful primer on the craft of writing.

In my opinion, the biggest draw of this new edition is the cover. It's black and professional looking; The perfect compliment for your shelf of writing books. I would recommend this edition to anyone willing to spend a little extra for a copy that isn't likely to fall apart after a few dozen reads. Long after you feel you've mastered all there is, you will still find yourself dipping into this now and again as a refresher. The advice is timeless and this high-quality edition does it justice.

If you're a student or don't care about a nicely bound hardcover, you could do just fine getting the ~$10 softcover edition.
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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2007
"The Elements of Style" was written by E.B. White in the 1950s. It is a revised and expanded version of a booklet used by his English professor William Strunk Jr. in 1919. During the years since its publication, the book reached the fourth edition, modernized and more suitable for the times (and the changes in language).

While this book was originally aimed at writers (of books and newspaper articles), solid writing skills are important for everyone. In these days of the content-rich web, people spend a lot of their collaboration time online. Blog entries, comments, forum and mailing list posts are quite a bit of writing, and one has to follow some simple but important rules to write correctly and effectively.

What's best about it is the size. These days, when the feeling is that writers and publishers get paid by the weight of their huge tomes, it is refreshingly pleasant to hold a small pocket book of only 100 pages, packed with useful information. The guidelines for correct writing are presented as a list of rules, divided to a few subtopics, with a well-selected index making things easy to find.

The book answers some of the most common doubts in writing English text:

1. Correct usage of punctuation: commas, colons, semicolons, dashes and periods.
2. Possessive singulars of nouns ("Charles's book")
3. Using the active voice, positive form and definite, concrete language for making a point effectively.
4. Pairs of words that are commonly confused: among/between, inside of/inside, shall/will, that/which

On the downside, this book can be seen as overly pedantic. Some words it discourages to use are already ingrained in modern English, and the strict rules it contains aren't the best fit for all kinds of writing. Therefore, I would not advise using this book "religiously" as something obliging. Rather, it is best used as a useful reference for certain things. Some rules you might not agree with, but most of them are just plain common sense of English writing, and rules like the ones I listed above are decidedly essential.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2012
I was disappointed to find out only after purchasing the book that this Kindle edition of The Elements of Style is not the one that was revised by E. B. White.

That issue aside, it is not clear what literary contribution has been made to the original text by the editor in this edition.
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